Skylar McBee does ‘all the little things’

UT guard impresses with maximum effort

Skylar McBee drives to the basket on June 14 against Team DeRoyal in Pilot Rocky Top League basketball action at Bearden High School.

Photo by Saul Young

Skylar McBee drives to the basket on June 14 against Team DeRoyal in Pilot Rocky Top League basketball action at Bearden High School.

There were six loose-ball scrambles in the opening game of Pilot Rocky Top League action Monday night at Bearden High School.

The News Sentinel’s Skylar McBee was on the floor for five of them.

The other one occurred when he was out of the game for a 3-minute rest.

“Now that’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about that carries over into the regular season,’’ said Boo Jackson, a former Eastern Michigan standout who has played professionally overseas the past eight years. “Skylar is a blue-collar worker, and he understands he needs to do those things. That’s why he can match up with a guy who may have a little more athleticism and win that battle every time.’’

Tennessee’s McBee helped the News Sentinel (3-2) win a 135-113 playoff game against Larry Smith Insurance (3-2) with his 37 minutes of maximum effort.

“Every team needs a guy like Skylar who is going to do all the little things, and do his job on the floor and more,’’ said Jordan McRae, McBee’s News Sentinel and Tennessee teammate. “You see Skylar dive on the floor all the time, and you know he’s doing it for the team. It makes you want to get after it, too.’’

McRae led all scorers with a league-high 55 points, but McBee found his 3-point range with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, which included him making seven of 10 shots from beyond the arc.

“Coach (Cuonzo) Martin has made it clear that for him, it’s about playing hard all the time,’’ said McBee, who averaged 12.6 minutes and three points per game this past season while hitting 32.4 percent beyond the arc.

“I feel like playing hard and playing physical is my game,’’ said McBee, who chose to walk on at UT rather than accept basketball scholarship offers from UC-Santa Clara and Marshall as well as a scholarship offer to play quarterback at Middle Tennessee State. “I want to come out here and try to out-hustle and out-fight people.’’

McBee, a rising junior who was placed on scholarship last year, figures to remain at the shooting guard position, likely backing up the explosive McRae.

But McBee is enjoying the show McRae has put on in the summer basketball league as much as anybody.

“Hey, when Jordy is scoring 45 and 55 every game, I’m going to get him the ball,’’ McBee said. “I just try to work on some aspects of my game out here, like ball handling and perimeter defense.’’

The 6-foot-2 McBee has added 10 pounds of muscle this summer, bulking up to 200 pounds, and he said he has continued to get hundreds of shots up each day.

As much as anyone, McBee is looking forward to playing in Martin’s motion offense.

“That’s actually what we ran at Grainger (High School),’’ McBee said. “I think the motion offense gets you moving a little more, and everyone is touching the ball. That kind of movement is tough to defend.’’

McBee, if nothing else, has proved tough, period, regardless of the venue and the name on the front of his jersey.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/mikegriffith32 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/askgriff/

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Comments » 23

KJVol writes:

Skylar is the type of player that will benefit from a coach that rewards grit and defensive effort. We may not win a lot of games this winter, but a team that gives effort is a lot more enjoyable to watch.

Rookie2 writes:

I like Skylar's effort, hopefully he can get his three point shooting on track. He can't be missing wide open three's. I think his stroke is a little to long and flowing..., like his hair. Maybe Cuonzo can get him straightened out (on both).

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to KJVol:

Skylar is the type of player that will benefit from a coach that rewards grit and defensive effort. We may not win a lot of games this winter, but a team that gives effort is a lot more enjoyable to watch.

If only we could get results from his defensive effort. My lord, we lost so much momentum in so many games last season when Pearl needlessly put McBee in. He can't stay in front of anyone and he's terrible at giving out silly fouls. I don't care what little things he does, if he can't guard SEC players (let alone hit a shot), he shouldn't be seeing the floor. I hope he's improved.

born2ride writes:

Skylar will get a lot of playing time out of necessity. He hustles and can shoot the 3 but hurts us on defense. He is the best we have.

Outdated writes:

Other teams ran much better screens for their shooters than TN..McBee has to have good screens or set up on the wing for open looks on the break.. Excellent shooter when open..

tmartin writes:

in response to Outdated:

Other teams ran much better screens for their shooters than TN..McBee has to have good screens or set up on the wing for open looks on the break.. Excellent shooter when open..

Yeah, but that was against Grainger County and Cumberland Gap.

richvol writes:

Last year Skyler missed wide open three pointers and got blown by on defense. One thing I noticed was his falling away instead of going straight up on his jumpers. If he doesn't improve this year then there's not much hope for any playing time for him since Pearl is gone.

easleychuck writes:

Lots of legends in their own minds chirping on this story. McBee is doing all the things that he can do to make himself a better player for UT.

Put the chip bags down and do the same in your sorry (must be to come on here and rip a kid who is doing nothing more than working his arse off to get better) lives, legends. I am sure that your blow-up dolls will appreciate the break.

scvols writes:

Nice picture of Skyler getting strip of the ball while driving to the basket. That is the best picture you had???

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to richvol:

Last year Skyler missed wide open three pointers and got blown by on defense. One thing I noticed was his falling away instead of going straight up on his jumpers. If he doesn't improve this year then there's not much hope for any playing time for him since Pearl is gone.

I would just point out that Lofton consistently retreated when he shot too. Shorter players often build that into their shot to create that extra inch of separation to get their shot off over longer players. That is what let Lofton hit big threes over shooting guard giants like Kevin Durant.

I suspect Mcbee didn't have to do that in high school and building his new shot accounts for most of the difference.

Think of it as being like when a golfer changes his swing. Can take a while for him to reach his old level of play, but sometimes he ends up being better.

Rookie2 writes:

His stroke is too looong.., instead of needing a step or a step and a half of separation between the defender, he needs three. May get that in high school, but not the SEC.

seaplane#216536 writes:

Motion offense. The opposite of what we played last year.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to alfrizzle097:

I would just point out that Lofton consistently retreated when he shot too. Shorter players often build that into their shot to create that extra inch of separation to get their shot off over longer players. That is what let Lofton hit big threes over shooting guard giants like Kevin Durant.

I suspect Mcbee didn't have to do that in high school and building his new shot accounts for most of the difference.

Think of it as being like when a golfer changes his swing. Can take a while for him to reach his old level of play, but sometimes he ends up being better.

Good post. You are right on target.

Skylar was not ready for prime time last year and he began making changes in his game to adapt. Let's see how he develops under Coach Zo. My guess is that some of the posters will be changing their tunes once the season arrives. Unlike Pearl's "method" approach, build the offense around the talents of the kids you have. Skylar should benefit from the motion offense Coach Zo uses which will allow him to find spots to set up for the 3, or to drive and dish from the wing if covered.

Tatum had the same issue. They asked him to play the #3 in the Tyler Smith manner. That is not what Tatum does. Tatum is a fast break, drive to the hole, or spot up 3 shooter. He needs tempo and flow. He does not drive across the lane, post up, or do mid-range jumpers well. Yet, that's what Pearl had him doing all year. He looked confused because he was. Coach Zo will get him doing whht he needs to do.

All of the guards had a tendency to jump and then make a decision what to do with the ball on drives. I expect Coach Zo will make some good coaching moves to change a lot of bad habits with the current roster.

Rookie2 writes:

in response to alfrizzle097:

I would just point out that Lofton consistently retreated when he shot too. Shorter players often build that into their shot to create that extra inch of separation to get their shot off over longer players. That is what let Lofton hit big threes over shooting guard giants like Kevin Durant.

I suspect Mcbee didn't have to do that in high school and building his new shot accounts for most of the difference.

Think of it as being like when a golfer changes his swing. Can take a while for him to reach his old level of play, but sometimes he ends up being better.

I'm not sure what you all are talking about. Skylars shot and motion is nothing like Chris Lofton's. Lofton did have a backward's lean when he'd spot up and elevate, almost falling away from the shot, Alan Houston had a bit of the same thing. And yes that allows you pull up and shoot when someone is in your grill. I've never seen that in Skylar's shooting motion... maybe he's pulled up and been off balance on some shots, but not because it's part of his shooting technique like Lofton.

TWhite11 writes:

Matt Hastings, watch for this name.

murrayvol writes:

in response to TWhite11:

Matt Hastings, watch for this name.

Why?

murrayvol writes:

I love that Skylar is willing to do all the little things and hustle but he needs to do one big thing for this Tennessee team.....score.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Yeah Skyler! Keep those feet moving or at least stay on your toes. I can't wait to see us play.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Rookie2:

I like Skylar's effort, hopefully he can get his three point shooting on track. He can't be missing wide open three's. I think his stroke is a little to long and flowing..., like his hair. Maybe Cuonzo can get him straightened out (on both).

Agree completely about Skylar's long shooting motion. Last year, he seldom got a pass right in the shooting pocket, so he was always having to corral the ball before putting it up. Then with his long stroke, he frequently had a guy flying at him when he tried to put it up. If he is putting up a lot of shots on his own, I hope he has someone passing the ball to him so he can practice "catching around the ball" and putting the shot up with a quicker, shorter motion.

MrBamSeydu writes:

As the picture shown shows McBee getting the ball knocked off his knee and out of bounds for a turnover..... that's about right.

Outdated writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Pearl's defensive coaching ability was not on display last year..the players he recruited were more suited for zone than man but he played little zone..his overall record at UT was great but I have never seen a worse coaching job than the last half of last season..maybe some of it was all the distractions..on the subject of McBee..I don't see how anyone can ask more of a player but to give it all he has..McBee does that ..

VolGrad writes:

in response to scvols:

Nice picture of Skyler getting strip of the ball while driving to the basket. That is the best picture you had???

Yeah, when I saw that picture I was thinking..., man, if he is battling for the ball because it is constantly getting stripped out of his possession, that isn't really a good thing.

BxVol writes:

Skylar always seemed to rush his shot, rarely in any sort of rythem.It also seemed like he wanted to get it away with the fear of it being blocked.If you remember the shot he made in the Kansas game, he made a move to free himself and then shot, it was in rythem.Nothing wrong with falling back as other have mentioned.Jimmy England was great with his moves with a man in his grill, and then rocking back and delivering, nothing but the bottom of the net!

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